Vista Magazine nr.53

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Florence & Tuscany In Town &Around 53 € 5,00 in bookshopsCon il patrocinio del Comune di Firenze SPECIAL ISSUE: TRADITION & INNOVATION FLORENCE FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES FOOD, EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT ANTIQUES FAIR IN PALAZZO CORSINI OLD & NEW IN VOLTERRA Fall 2022/Magenta Editrice/In attesa di registrazione nel Tribunale di Firenze/Distributed free

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Many styles of architecture are represented in Florence, most of it real, some of it not. Here is a guide to help you see the difference.

Centuries of art, architecture in particular, are repre sented in city, from the early medieval to Art Nouveau. Florence is not Pompeii, that is, solely a Roman city of the first century A.D. Nor is it, luckily, a city which sprang up overnight near some rich mining field. It is a city which has been growing for quite a long time. The traces of this long life are juxtaposed and often superimposed, interre lated and sometimes mingled. Looking at the different views of Florence is like watching a composite group of people of all ages. And, occasionally, masks appear.

Some cities are covered in heavy makeovers, their true complexion hidden. Florence, by comparison, fares ex ceptionally well. There is enough original, authentic and unadulterated beauty to discourage faking, and to render face-lifting superfluous. Yet, even here, there are a number of fakes or, rather, imitations.

False copies are usually not a deceit, but a homage to the originals. One example is the façade of the Duomo. The elaborate design, correct but cold, accurate yet over crowded, is the result of 19th century zeal. This excellent pastiche celebrated its first centenary from its solemn

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True and False in the City’s Historic Architecture The false Gothic facade of Santa Croce

inauguration in 1887; 135 years ago was not exactly the Gothic Age.

Like the Duomo, most large churches in Florence were left for centuries without a completed façade. Some (San Lorenzo, Carmine, Santo Spirito, San Paolino, San Giorgio alla Costa, etc.) still do not have one. Santa Croce does – in green and white marble – but it is, again, a fake. The sto ry behind it is touching because the false Gothic front, started in 1853, was the gift of a generous admirer, who was not Italian and not even a Catholic, Sir Francis Joseph Sloane of Scotland. In the same period, the glorious church also received a pseudo me dieval tower which was not there before. It looks like the real McCoy, but it is not: as are, on the contrary, the similar stee pled towers of the Badia and Santa Maria Novella.

The latter church has an authentic façade, but completed in installments in two differ ent eras, the lower part being Gothic (early 14th century), the upper, Renaissance, by Leon Battista Alberti (late 15th century). San Miniato, on the other hand, is an au thentic jewel of Florentine Romanesque architecture, with geometric inlays of white and green marble on its façade.

Tricks pop out at unexpected points. In Piazza della Signoria, 90 percent of what one sees is original, and worthy of admira tion, from the top crenellation of the tower to the basin of the fountain on which the nude sea nymphs stretch their voluptuous bronze limbs. The missing 10 percent, which is dubious, is represented by Mi chelangelo’s David, (the original of which is now located, as everyone knows, in the Academy Gallery) an honest copy though, not a fake. The number of copies in Flor ence is increasing due to the difficulties of protecting art works from weather condi tions at their original sites.

There is also the massive palace directly opposite Palazzo Vecchio. This looks like an early Renaissance building like the Medici or Strozzi palaces, but is just an imitation, built by the architect Landi around 1880. The “fraud” is easily revealed: the palazzo is too large and tall, out of proportion with the square. It has a row of arches on the ground floor, obviously destined for modern shops, whereas the old palaces had warehouses at this level, with small distrustful windows to prevent pilferage. The edifice is four stories high, while the rigid rule of all Re naissance palaces was three floors. To top everything off, the rich corniche crowning

the buildings is not carved stone but cast iron! Compare the building with the real thing in the shape of Palazzo Strozzi, and its perfect symmetry, façades which are as wide as they are high, splendid corniche, and elegant courtyard.

Perhaps the most clamorous fake is the phony House of Dante, near the church of the Badia. On the (false) assumption that the great poet lived there before his ban ishment from Florence, an unlikely “medi eval house” was rebuilt on the spot in 1910, complete with truncated tower, overhang ing roof, and stone well. This forerunner of a Disneyland exhibit was meant to honor Dante all right but does not do much hon or to the historical truth. It was later as certained that Dante never lived there, but a few steps around the corner, in a tall and narrow building which has a restaurant on the ground floor. The restaurant is an orig inal antique as it was started in the 16th century by painter Mariotto Albertinelli.

Other freely reconstructed, or re-in vented, medieval buildings are the Palazzo dell’Arte della Lana, along via Calimala, the older portion of the Palazzo della Parte Guelfa, the Giudici Palace, the Mozzi Pal ace in via de’Bardi “restored” by the great antique dealer Bardini, and several others.

Their spurious finish, if not origin, is re vealed by the fact that they look much too medieval--too letter-perfect to be com pletely true! Don’t worry, as there are still enough (there were more before the de struction of World War II) real and un touched medieval palaces, towers, and tow er-houses in Florence, along Borgo Santi Apostoli, for instance, or Borgo San Jacopo, Via Porta Rossa, Via dei Cerchi, Via delle Oche, and so on. And the Davanzati Pal ace is a splendid example of a 14th century mansion. Even here, though, the top loggia is a later, Quattrocento addition.

The “gentle art of faking” was practiced even in earlier times, and Florence yields some fine instances. The Loggiato deg li Innocenti (Innocenti Portico) designed by Brunelleschi in 1419, is certainly an original (and more than that, the earliest fully Renaissance building on earth!). But the matching portico on the opposite site of Piazza Santissima Annunziata—Porti co dei Serviti—is an obvious imitation of the other. Built exactly one century later, it was a tribute to the great architect by two other worthy colleagues, Sangallo and Bac cio d’Agnolo. The twin porticos give un equalled harmony to the square, possibly the most beautiful in Florence.

San Miniato's authentic Romanesque architecture

The Stellar Restaurant and Cock tail Bar (Piazza del Cestello 10) is bringing Florence’s two mil lennia of culinary history to the modern world. The chefs are innovating Italian staples using haute cuisine flares, particu larly focusing on the union of the restau rant’s bar and its kitchen.

Located in the structure which housed the Granaio dell’Abbondanza, the Medici fami ly’s granary, the Stellar’s indoor and outdoor dining spaces are part of the building’s ren ovation project. Though constructed in 1695, the premises now house a startup coworking space and a coding school. It looks more Sil icon Valley than Renaissance reverence, but the exposed ducts and LED lights don’t clash with the vaulted ceilings so much as breathe fresh air into an ancient city.

The unique context of the Stellar came as a welcome challenge for Luigi Bona donna, the restaurant’s head chef. Hav ing trained in Michelin-starred kitchens around Europe, he is bringing the cutting edge of the culinary world to residents and visitors. Bonadonna sets breakfast, lunch and dinner menus every weekday for the 600 people who work in the space, as well as for outsiders coming for a meal or aper itivo. His “notebook of ideas” helps him keep those menus interesting.

“We have the traditions. I add my cre ative twists and update it for 2022,” Bona donna said. “For example, in my carbonara, I put the black pepper and the pecorino cheese inside the pasta itself.”

That “Carbonara 3.0” is also topped with a grated, dehydrated egg yolk, an experi mental reimagination of the Roman dish. It comes as the primo course in the carne (meat) tasting menu, presented alongside fish and vegetarian options. Delicious main courses include the breast of guinea fowl served with caponata relish of chopped summer vegetables and hollandaise as well as the pork loin (pluma iberica) glazed with honey, chives and cashews.

The tasting menus also provide an op portunity to sample the Stellar’s other main focus—cocktails.

“The bar shouldn’t just be here,” said head barman Nicola Spaggiari. “It should work with the kitchen.”

Most fine restaurants treat the kitchen and the bar as separate entities. But rather than hosting two independent experiences under one roof, Spaggiari works with the


kitchen staff to make cocktails that are tai lored to individual customers. “We’re fo cusing on cocktail pairing, which is a new idea,” said Spaggiari. He talks to guests when they sit down and mixes cocktails ac cording to their tastes and what they order.

Spaggiari crafted an original summer cocktail of pineapple and grapefruit juice, bitters and an orange-and-mint liqueur made from herbs grown in his own garden in Chi anti. The refreshing flavors matched Bona donna’s panzanella, the classic Tuscan salad of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and soaked stale bread. In Bonadonna’s version the bread was baked and slightly crispy, perfectly

complementing the texture of the fresh veg etables. According to Spaggiari, this creative synergy creates “one world” in the restaurant.

These fresh takes on tradition—from the interiors to the food on the plate— combine for a unique dining experience, “the future,” he says. The future will surely hold more innovation at the Stellar as the team finds even more new ways to update Italian recipes.

Visit the Stellar for breakfast, lunch, aperitivo (cocktails) or dinner Monday through Friday 8 am to midnight or dinner Saturday from 6 pm to midnight; reserva tions recommended at 331 135 8259.

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A Menu of Innovative Classics at ‘The Stellar’


Palazzo Corsini showcases exhibits from ancient to modern, with a debut in the metaverse


the classic and the contemporary, Flor ence’s International Antiques Biennale (BI AF) will engage the birthplace of the Renais sance on the world stage. The fair is regarded as one of the most acclaimed events dedicated to Italian art, as it attracts exhibitors and visitors from across the globe.  From the Florentine Renaissance to the international 20th century, the best of Italian art and antiques will be on display.

Since its debut in 1959, the BIAF has displayed the refined classic taste that is embodied in the city of Florence itself. Now after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the 32nd edition returns from September 24 until October 2.

Treasures that one might never be able to see other wise are now in the Palazzo Corsini, with approximately 80 galleries represented at stands within the esteemed rooms and halls of the 17th century venue overlooking the Arno River.  In just a few paces, guests can expe rience the magic of art as it exists throughout history going from viewing a 15th century work by Alesso di Benozzo Gozzoli to jumping forward in time and im mersed in a new digital experience of modern art.

An oil on panel painting by Artemisia Gentileschi dates back to 1640, and shows Mary Magdalene in meditation near a cave, her face turned toward heaven and the background a beautiful landscape.

7 events & festivitiesTUSCANY ’ S CULTURAL GUIDE
Palazzo Corsini, venue of the Antiques Biennale A portrait by Antonio Canova (Antonacci Lapiccirella) Antique furniture displayed by Giuseppe Maggiolini

The history behind this piece of art as well as the artist behind it are equally com plex. During a time in which women were disadvantaged and had few opportunities to pursue artistic training in the profession al world, Gentileschi is regarded among the most accomplished 17th century painters, becoming the first woman to be invited as a member of the Accademia delle Arte del Disegno in Florence.

When Gentileschi was 17 years old, she was raped by a friend of her father, Agosti no Tassi, an incident that affected her rep utation within the art world and her work itself. Subsequently Gentileschi created paintings that reflected her lived experi ence, giving rise to a naturalistic approach that allowed her pieces to illustrate intense emotions and would captivate audiences for centuries to come.

Also present at the fair is a canvas by Alessandro Rosi, who worked for Ferdi nando de’ Medici and painted the cycle of frescoes at Palazzo Corsini in Florence be tween 1650-53. Tragically Rosi died in an accident while walking on the via Condotta in Florence when a column fell from a ter race and killed him.

An innovative twist comes to the expo through Eternal Memories, transporting attendees to present day technological advances through the first docu-game in the world that aims to introduce younger generations to ancient art. A docu-game, a digital simulation wherein the player ex periences a fusion of the online world and reality, stimulates learning through game play. The game, set in Florence during the 1966 flood, includes original footage

recovered from archives. The flood was an unparalleled catastrophe for Florentine antique dealers, but the Antiques Biennale still went ahead as scheduled the follow ing year.

The Eternal Memories app highlights how Florence inspires such a strong passion for art and spirit of solidarity on an interna tional scale, as young people came from all around the world to help save its art after the flood. Playable in Italian and English, Eternal Memories can be downloaded for free on all smartphones and iPads through the App Store.

EY, the innovation partner of the BIAF, further links the expo to the future through an interactive museum space within the metaverse with exhibits from previous years of the fair. EY also hosts a panel on the role of technology in the art world, connecting the celebration of classic works to the fu ture of art as we know it.

The juxtaposition of modern art experi ences and classic works in the same space reminds viewers how art has developed throughout the years, and how the value of classic pieces remains even as our new con ception of artwork changes.

One of the featured pieces is a portrait of Giovan Pietro Bellori, a famous art critic in the 17th century. Artist Carlo Maratti painted the oil on canvas portrait between 1672 and 1673. Another titled “The Rigo li Altarpiece” illustrates the Madonna and Child enthroned between St. John the Baptist, St. Francis and angels. It is the largest altar painting by Alesso di Benozzo Gozzoli among those known today.

While the fair commemorates classic Italian art, it also displays works that have shaped the taste of the modern art scene, including Roman, Etruscan and medieval sculptures and finds.

The antique items exhibited also rep resent a rich history, such as a carved and lacquered wooden dresser with a light blue background and floral decorations from 18th century Venice.

Portraits of Clement of Saxony and his sister Maria Josefa Amalia with a pair of extravagant porcelain vases are signed

“Giovine 1822,” who was the most famous miniaturist of the Neapolitan porcelain fac tory around 1820, and author of numerous portraits of members of the royal family.

With the Biennale’s rich cultural pro gram in combination with Florence Art Week, the entire city becomes an exhibition for the world to see.

The designer boutiques of Via Tornab uoni, the art and antiques galleries of Via Maggio, Via de Fossi, Borgognissanti and the jewelry shops of Ponte Vecchio will showcase the best paintings, drawings, sculptures, furnishings, ceramics and jewel ry from every era.

“There is no doubt that Florence pio neered the art market as we know it,” said Fabrizio Moretti, Secretary General of BIAF.

In a gesture that honors family and the cultural heritage of Italy, Moretti, Eleonora and Bra Botticelli donated an altarpiece to the Cathedral of Sansepolcro to commem orate the memory of their parents Veria and Franco Botticelli and Alfredo Moretti. The altarpiece is by Durante Alberti and depicts the Trinity and St. Andrew, Mary Magdalene and Cristina.

Thanks to the financial support of the Antiques Biennale, the Fondazione Ar chivio Museo Richard Ginori of the Manifattura di Doccia has started an im portant restoration campaign for precious wax models that were severely damaged by humidity in the years following the closure and abandonment of the Ginori Porcelain Museum in Sesto Fiorentino.


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Until Oct. 2, 2022 Palazzo Corsini, Lungarno Corsini Open 10:30 am – 8 pm Admission € 15, €10 for groups, free for kids under six
Mary Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi
vases (Brun Fine


Florence Art Week Brings the Best of Both Worlds to a Historic City

The acclaimed artistic display doesn’t stop when one exits through the doors of the Palazzo Corsini, as Florence Art Week will bring contemporary pieces to sites across the city starting in mid-September. In conjunction with the International Antiques Biennale, guests can admire 20th and 21st and classic works as they walk from squares to muse ums, fully immersed in the vast program of cultural events.

Stepping into the Piazza della Signoria, one can view two of Henry Moore’s sculp tures, which are exhibited through “Hen ry Moore in Florence,” from Sept. 16 to March 31, 50 years after Moore’s last exhi bition at the Forte di Belvedere. A British sculptor, Moore is internationally known for semi-abstract monumental bronzes with worldwide recognition.

Running from Sept. 22 to Jan. 22, the Palazzo Strozzi presents a unique showcase dedicated to Olafur Eliasson, whose multi faceted production focuses on the visitor in a reflection on the idea of shared and rela tional experience of reality.

9 displays & showsTUSCANY ’ S CULTURAL GUIDE
Firefly, double polyhedron sphere experiment by Olaf Eliasson

Eliasson, an Icelandic-Danish artist, works with sculpture, painting, photogra phy, video, installations and digital media. His art is guided by his interest in percep tion, movement, lived experience, his own feelings and those of the community. Its practice is not limited to the confines of museums and galleries, involving the pub lic through architectural projects, interven tions in public spaces, artistic, social and environmental education initiatives.

The artist engages with all Renaissance environments, from the courtyard to the Piano Nobile to the Strozzina, creating an engaging path between new installations and historical works that use elements such as color, water and light to create an inter action between senses and the classic space.  The architectural, historical and symbolic context of the building is thus rethought, enhancing the role of the public as an inte gral part of the works.

For the first time, three monumental sculptures by Tony Cragg will be exhibit ed in the cloister of the Museo Novecento from Sept. 23 until Jan. 29. In an innova tive twist, the project presents not only the artist’s work but the creative process. One

of the most famous proponents of contem porary sculpture, Cragg is recognized for his contribution to the introduction of new materials and techniques in the art world.

The exhibition “Passione Novecento. From Paul Klee to Damien Hirst” houses a prestigious selection of works by 20th-cen tury masters from private local collections at Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The showcase of fers viewers a precious opportunity to admire works by Klee, Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Alberto Savinio, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, together with those by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstein, Cecily Brown

and Tracey Emin. The display runs until Jan uary 15, 2023.

In an intertwining of historical events and artistic testimony, the Uffizi Galleries are hosting an exhibition on Sammy Baloji and the works that arrived in Europe from the Kingdom of Kongo between the 16th and 17th centuries. Held at the Andito de gli Angiolini in Palazzo Pitti from Sept. 6 to Nov. 27, the show also features the oli fanti trumpets in inlaid ivory, showing the history of exchanges between Africa and Europe that challenges the Eurocentric foundation

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contemporary work
displayed in the
during Florence Art Week


Road.” The couple was also interested in popularizing long dresses that could be worn in the daytime, changing the idea of an “eve ning gown” as the world knew it.

The couple garnered a lot of attraction within the pop scene because of the modern, innovative style of their designs. They be gan to dress celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, and Marisa Berenson. Their couture hit the red carpets and fashion runways, and Mr. & Mrs. Clark were unstoppable.

Ossie’s and Celia’s faces may also seem familiar to some, as they are the main subjects of the famous portrait painting titled Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1971) by David Hockney. The artist painted the pair in his home in Notting Hill, further portraying how much of a power couple the Clarks were while they were married. The work is a contemporary retelling of the masterpiece by Jan Van Eyk, the Arnolfini Portrait (1434), with Celia Birthwell dominant in contrast to meek bride of the Renaissance piece, and infidelity symbolized in the depiction of Mr. Clark, another dissimilarity. The couple, in fact, divorced in 1974.

The public will be able to visit and experience Mr. & Mrs. Clark’s fashions during the Musero del Tessuto’s normal visiting hours. This creative and collaborative exhibition should not be missed.


exhibition comes to this fall Prato, a city just north west of Florence, which can be reached in just 15 minutes with an inexpensive train ticket. Mr & Mrs Clark, Oss ie Clark and Celia Birtwell, Fashion and Prints 1965-74 will be held in Prato’s Museo del Tessuto (Textile Museum), a venue known for hosting temporary shows having to do with historical fabrics and fashion. The exhibition is also showing in Milan at Fondazi one Sozzani, from January to April.

“Mr & Mrs Clark” is a retrospective showcasing the work and talents of Ossie Clark and his wife Celia Birtwell. The couple was married from 1969 to 1974 and collaborated together, in London, in harmony, as one was a clothing designer and the other was a designer of textiles. Clark created one-of-a-kind pieces, most fa mously dresses, using the incredible and intricate prints made in silk and chiffon that Birtwell conceived.

Although Mr. & Mrs. Clark’s dresses will be the main attraction of the exhibition, multimedia aspects feature in the show as well in the form of photos, videos, music, original sketches, and other forms of memorabilia. An important part of the display is the ex clusive screening of a Celia Birtwell interview.

The retrospective will showcase 40 dresses for visitors to admire. Guests may notice how Ossie Clark gathered his inspiration from the 1930s and 40s and adding notes of flower power, with ma ny of the textiles being transparent and barely covering cleavage at times. This style left Ossie with the nickname “King of King’s


Until January 8, 2023

Museo del Tessuto, Via Puccetti 3, Prato Open Tues./Wed./Thurs. 10 am – 3 pm, Fri./Sat. 10 am – 7 pm, Sun. 3 – 7 pm

Admission € 8, reduced €6

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A Contemporary Spin on Classical Music at Teatro della Pergola


is big news for a 100-year-old musical or ganization in a 400-yearold theater. The 2022/2023 con cert season of the Amici della Musica will be the first produced under their new artistic director, Andrea Lucchesini, who is tak ing over for Domitilla Baldeschi, appointed Honorary President of the organization.

Since its inception in 1920, Gli Amici della Musica has brought world class musicians to the 17th century Teatro della Pergola in the center of Florence. The magnificent venue provides a stage for talent from around Italy, Europe and the world. For over a century, the Amici have organized concerts in this ele gant theater—matching beauti ful classical music to the marble interior, massive chandeliers and red-velvet trimming.

No one knows how to juggle a contrast better than Lucchesini, who has just begun his first season at the helm. An acclaimed pi anist himself, he is bringing in new ideas as Gli Amici della Musica adapts to the post-pandemic norms of live music.

“The world of classical music has changed,” says Lucchesini, “and concert organizers can’t approach audiences as they did in the past.

“Being an international musician was really important because, during the concert tours around the world, I was able to see what people liked, what didn’t work, what programs the audience was attracted to,” he added.

Lucchesini has already created new initiatives for the upcoming season with that innovation in mind. The Ritratti (or Portraits) series will bring in a variety of contemporary composers to show case their work in Florence but with audience engagement at the forefront.

“Sometimes there are contemporary music concerts and they’re not really understood or appreciated, so we will be inviting com posers who will talk about their music to the audience, even to a younger audience,” said Lucchesini.

The series will present different artists, each of whom has been asked to create a chamber concert that puts their own pieces in

dialogue with one or more great historic works that inspired them. The selected Ritratti guests come from a large swath of the con temporary classical music world.

Gli Amici della Musica will also be expanding its scope this year. With a series titled Musica &…, other art forms will coexist alongside classic music, ranging from film to poetry to mimes. This mini-festival will pay tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini, an Italian film director, writer, actor, journalist, playwright, and political figure of the 1900s. Notably, one concert will mix a vocal and piano perfor mance with the work of Pasolini. Pasolini, controversial in his day, remains so today for his at-times brusque style of communication. He is, nevertheless, appreciated for his contributions to the culture and politics of 20th century Italy.

Lucchesini stresses that the Amici della Musica will still bring in “big names” and “important soloists,” but his vision will bring a breath of fresh air into programs that span centuries.

The new season will inaugurate October 15 when the Italian Youth Orchestra will interpret compositions by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky at the Teatro della Pergola. The next day, October 16, brings the debut of the Ritratti series with contemporary com poser Silvia Colasanti (b. 1975). See the Music Calendar for the complete schedule or visit

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Andrea Lucchesini


The Restoration of a Mannerist Masterpiece Financed by ‘Friends of Florence’

Visitors to Volterra this fall have an exciting treat awaiting them in the Civic Art Museum. During reg ular museum hours (9 am to 7 pm), conservation work on Rosso Fiorentino’s Descent from the Cross will be visible to the public, who will also be able to learn about the history of the painting and the restoration in progress through viewing interactive screens. Con servators Daniele Rossi and Ro berto Buda are overseeing a team of scientists using diagnostics to delve beneath the surface of the altarpiece to reveal Rosso’s tech nique and document the condi tion of the paint layers and of the large wooden panel. The conser vation and scientific research are funded by the Friends of Florence Foundation.

The altarpiece, originally in the Cathedral of Volterra, was signed and dated by the artist in 1521, when Giovanni Battista di Jaco po, known to his contemporaries as Rosso Fiorentino because of his Florentine heritage and his shock of brilliant red hair, was 27. Rosso had apprenticed in the workshop of master Florentine painter An drea del Sarto from his mid-teens and by the time of his Volterra commission was a sought-after artist in his own right. Consid ered by many scholars to be Ros so Fiorentino’s greatest work, his Descent from the Cross is an intense study in movement, color and raw emotion that marked a new era in Mannerist painting.

The term “Mannerism” has been a subject of more or less continu ous discussion in art history since the term “la maniera moderna” was

13 artists & artisansTUSCANY ’ S CULTURAL GUIDE
Rosso Fiorentino's 'Descent from the Cross' (1521)

first coined by Vasari to describe the paint ers and architects of his generation. Artists such as Bronzino, Parmigianino, Pontor mo, Rosso and Vasari himself in Florence, Beccafumi and Sodoma in Siena, and Gi ulio Romano in Rome expressed different aspects of the new style. Mannerism is a highly sophisticated art form, founded on supreme technical competence and ut ter familiarity with the High Renaissance style.

Mannerist adherents pushed the main features of the High Renaissance canon, i.e. perspective, architectural volumes, nat uralism, beyond their extreme limits. In their works, we sense a continual tension between the real and the ideal, between the natural and the artificial, between the scale of the figures represented and the back ground they seem to be set into. The seeds of Mannerism can already be found in the painting of Filippino Lippi and in the painting and architecture of Michelangelo. The frenetic compositions of Filippino and Michelangelo’s bold use of color are both echoed in Rosso Fiorentino’s works.

The Descent from the Cross depicts the moment, recounted in the gospel, when the followers of Christ remove His dead body from the cross. This theme first be came popular in Byzantine art in the 9th century and was further developed in the later Medieval and Renaissance eras. Mannerist painters interpreted the theme in new ways, and Rosso Fiorentino’s de piction is certainly the most revolutionary of them all.

Art historians have attributed Rosso’s strange composition of the Descent from the Cross, with its figures crowded towards the edges of the painting, as a Mannerist over reaction to the harmonious compositions of the High Renaissance. However, later scholars have pointed out that the paint ing was made for the high altar of a chapel in the Volterra Cathedral dedicated to the story of the true cross, a central theme for the Franciscan friars who commissioned the piece. So, the boldly painted cross at the center of Rosso’s composition, starkly outlined against the sky, is central to our understanding the meaning of the painting. The cross links the still, peaceful figure of Christ, whose spirit has already ascended to Heaven, with the violently active figures on the ladders next to him and the grieving figures at the bottom of the picture, who are closest to the viewers.

Rosso’s harsh lighting seems to capture

the scene in a brief, agonizing moment of time. The colors in Descent from the Cross are bold, dramatic, and dissonant, inspiring feelings of anguish and uncertainty, height ened by the awkward movements of the figures on the ladders. The body of Christ is a sickly green hue, his reddish hair contrast ing with the cadaverous tones of his skin. The boldness of Rosso’s modelling, with faces and drapery seemingly sculpted by a chisel rather than shaped by brushstrokes, recalls Michelangelo but also foretells the 20th century Cubist style.

The background of the painting is al most non-existent, as if the figures are ac tors on a stage set. Besides Christ, there are 10 participants, who are not all iden tifiable but who include: Joseph of Ari mathea, (the man with the grey beard) Nicodemus (reaching out to support the body), and at the bottom of the compo sition, St. John the Evangelist, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene (who throws herself at Mary’s feet).

Rosso’s St. John the Evangelist, a tall red-headed man stooped over in grief at the bottom right, is considered to be

a self-portrait of the artist. By including himself in the composition, Rosso height ens the emotional intensity of his work and of our involvement in it. The position he is in, stooped over in anguish with his head buried in his hands, accentuates this. Ditto for the figure of Mary Magdalene, reach ing across the bottom of the cross to almost claw at the Virgin’s cloak in her horror and distress at the scene, and we can identify with her grief. It’s no wonder that in 1963 the great Italian director Pier Paolo Pasoli ni chose to create a tableau vivant of Ros so’s incredibly communicative masterpiece.

The ongoing conservation process in Volterra will shed new light on the Descent from the Cross, and further our knowledge of Rosso Fiorentino and his art.

The painting has also influenced and continues to influence contemporary cul ture—having also been featured in cine ma—and the evolution of artistic styles and movements. From diagnostics and consolidation to restoration, visitors can see the conservation process through glass at the work site in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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New Prospects for Prisoners Thanks to Public Theater Performances & Dinners

festival in the province of Pisa, the Compagnia della Fortezza trav els in prison buses to other cities. After an evening performance, they spend the night in a local jail.

Punzo, who spends every day with the inmates in the prison, considers the workshop series more of an artistic statement than a rehabilitation program. He says he is “not interested in prison ers and the prison” or in “social work,” but is instead devoted to highlighting the humanity of the prison population. The program transforms “a place of punishment [into] a place of culture, art and experimentation,” he said.

People normally only visit jails when they must, but in Volt erra, prisoners are now one of the town’s biggest attractions.

Driving through the countryside of Tuscany normally re calls olive trees and grapevines. The isolated communities dotting the landscape can melt into a scenic background for travelers off to farm bed-and-breakfast agriturismo getaways. But these villages are more than just set dressing. Their robust cultures contain thou sands of years of history, with the art, food and festivals to reflect it.

Volterra (population: 10,000), an hour southwest of Florence, has an especially interesting tradition. The town hosts the Com pagnia della Fortezza, a nationally acclaimed theater company comprised of inmates from the high-security prison, Fortezza Medicea. All performances are open to the public, giving the au diences face-to-face contact with people behind bars who become actors and fill other theatre roles. Under the leadership of artistic director Armando Punzo, productions have taken place for over 30 years.

The annual shows are the capstone to a yearlong workshop pro gram that involves as many inmates as possible. For anyone not in solitary confinement, a small team of theater professionals offers classes in everything from costuming to makeup to set construc tion and acting, opening doors for arts careers when they can leave the prison.

From the company’s inception in 1989 until 2004, a stage was set up inside the prison’s outdoor courtyard. But since 2004, the program moved to Volterra’s town square. That year also marked the beginning of the company’s national tours. Having been on stage as far as Milan and as close as Andrea Bocelli’s 11 Lune

Other professionals help Punzo from the organization Carte Blanche, a non-profit founded in 1987, a year before the Campag nia della Fortezza. While consisting of only five full time members, Carte Blanche works with nearly three dozen theater practitioners to coordinate the annual workshop, also advocating theater-based prisoner rehabilitation programs in other parts of Italy and around the EU.

In addition, the Compagnia della Fortezza prepares dinners and breakfasts associated with the performances. These Cene Galeotte were an extension of the program and run entirely by prisoners under the guidance of a professional chef. While the pandemic disrupted regular meals, dinners started up again in August 2022, raising €4200 to plant trees in downtown Volterra while opening yet another career pathway to participants after their jail sentences are completed.

The initiatives cap off the organization’s 33rd year, which also capitalized on Volterra’s 2022 title as the first Tuscan Capital of Culture. The honor carried a theme—Human Regeneration—a perfect tie-in with Compagnia della Fortezza’s robust prison reha bilitation and community engagement efforts.



Experiencing Layers of Landscape, Archeology & Architecture in a Hilltop Town

High on a ridge that divides the Val di Cecina from the Val d’Elsa, one can spot the village of Volterra overlooking both valleys. It can be seen from miles away and looks impregnable. Yet the town has been conquered several times in its long history, although residents insist only by trickery. As visitors approach, they leave behind luxuriant woods, olive groves and roll ing vineyards and the landscape changes to one of barrenness and solitude. Few trees or farmhouses break the monotony, and the overall appearance seems otherworldly.

Locals call the cliffs and chasms formed by centuries of erosion Le Balze. The natural phenomenon forms a ragged and forebod ing landscape that through the years has engulfed and destroyed homes, a necropolis and a church.

Two thousand meters (6,500 ft.) west of the central piazza one finds this fascinating landscape. One can imagine the ancient Etruscan settlement once here on the high plateau with views in all directions, providing a natural defense from potential ma rauders. But the fiercest enemy proved to be Mother Nature as through the centuries more and more of the city succumbed to the

sightseeing 16
La Badia di Volterra (2012) - Oil on canvas 140 X 80 cm

constant assault of rain and wind eroding the soft sandstone until now only remnants of the Etruscan walls remain.

Situated on a hilltop overlooking the countryside visitors can enter the Badia, a Camaldolese monastery dating back to the 11th century. Sitting precipitously on the Balze cliffs’ edge, the ancient building looks almost as if a landslide or rushing water could propel it over the rim. Commissioned by the bishop of Volterra and dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Giusto, the Badia has been restored, but the church and belltower still look as they did in the Mid dle Ages. Modern monks’ quarters, restored in the 16th century, contain the cloisters, refectory and sleeping quarters.

Tuscany’s longest continuously inhabit ed town, Volterra boasts a history from the

8th century BC. Very little remains of the metropolis the Etruscan called Velathri ex cept the artifacts retrieved from the many burial sites. The one remaining Etruscan gate, damaged when the town was besieged by the Romans in 80 BC, was subsequent ly and uncharacteristically restored by the Romans. Only the doorposts of the outer arch and the inner walls are Etruscan and their great stone slabs can be easily distin guished from the rest.

Volterra spent much of the early Middle Ages squabbling with its powerful neigh bor, Florence. The dispute was over alum, a substance necessary for fixing dyes which was extracted from numerous quarries sur rounding the town. The quarrelling even tually turned into a full blown two-month siege led by the Medici ruler, Lorenzo the Magnificent. The sack of Volterra, when he had given his word that he would respect their property, is reputed to be one of the three principal sins he confessed to Friar Savonarola on his deathbed.

Volterra can now appreciate an even richer Roman history derived from discov eries in the last century. In the 1950s local economics professor Enrico Fiumi uncov ered the remains of a Roman theatre and baths and excavated them with a work team comprised of patients from a local psychi atric hospital. These ancient structures lie just down the hill from the current city and are a constant reminder of past glories. Lat er in 2015, while undertaking sewer main tenance work, workers discovered what is believed to be a long buried and forgotten Roman amphitheater. The recent site sits nearby the archeological site excavated in the 1950s, adding to the Roman legacy in the area.

Placed in the valley along the route of an ancient Etruscan road, the amphitheater lies six to 11 meters (20 to 36 ft.) below ground with the overall structure estimat ed to be 82 by 64 meters (269 by 210 ft.). Archeologists date the site in the 1st cen tury BC during the Julio-Claudian dynasty comprising the first five Roman emperors. Archeologists used ground penetrating radar and other scientific means to indicate the size and placement of the structures. Later bulldozers and huge earth moving machines exposed the site with the fine work executed by hand with trowels, shov els and sifters.

Oval like Rome’s famous Colosseum, the amphitheater was built using sand stone called panchina obtained from local

quarries. The structure, of extraordinarily large size, contains three tiers of seating which could accommodate 10,000 specta tors for the dramatic and brutal shows with sword-fighting gladiators and wild animal combat. Recently excavators found an en tire series of tunnels perfectly preserved which allowed for passage from one tier to another, as in modern sports arenas. A vaulted access tunnel to a covered passage way, believed to be where gladiators en tered the arena, provided a dramatic entry for their ensuing gory battles.

The amphitheater partially collapsed with an earthquake in the end of 3rd, be ginning of 4th century, but excavations have shown part of the structure remained intact. Later the area was probably used as temporary shelter for travelers and sub sequent residents made use of the already squared stones to construct new buildings.

Historians consider the amphitheater, previously not known to exist, one of the most important Italian archeological dis coveries of the past century. “The finding sheds a new light on the history of Volter ra, which is most famous for its Etruscan legacy. It shows that during the emperor Augustus’ rule, it was an important Roman center,” states archeologist and excavation supervisor Elena Sorge.


Most of Volterra’s sights can be seen on foot with a good pair of walking shoes as the historic center is quite compact. Cafés and coffee bars abound for snacks, drinks and local cuisine.

To travel back in time, visit Volterra’s museum gem, the Guarnacci Museum, which houses the best collection of Etrus can artifacts in all Italy.

On the highest part of the hill, lies the remains of the Etruscan acropolis revealing ancient tales of an area inhabited for mil lennia. Wandering through the compound the remnants of two temples from the Hel lenistic period can be seen. Unfortunately, as the buildings were made of wood and clay which didn’t survive the passage of time, one can only imagine the ornately decorated original buildings.

The hub of present day Volterra is the Piazza dei Priori, the heart of the medie val city. The Palazzo dei Priori, which gives the square its name and the oldest civic building standing in Tuscany, was begun in 1208, although various renovations, includ ing the clock tower, were constructed later.


Terracotta coats of arms which cover the façade commemorate the Florentine com missioners who resided there until 1513 when the Medici decided the buildings should be returned to the residents. Other buildings surrounding the piazza all date back to the Middle Ages.

The Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven often puzzles visitors by its mixture of styles. Completed in 1120 and completely transformed 500 years later by the Medici, the ceiling and paintings by local artists all clearly date from the Renaissance period. Fortunately, subsequent architects decided to leave in place two elements of the original cathe dral. The pulpit and the wood sculpture on the main altar, both created in the 13th century, look strangely anachronistic in their 16th century setting.

To experience the glory of the Roman period, visit the Roman Theater, one of the biggest and best conserved in Italy. One can imagine walking through the stone arcade, along Corinthian columns to reach the seats before a performance. Stroll along the remains of the ancient baths where Ro mans took their daily waters for health and social reasons. Nearby lies the previous ly described archeological site still under exploration containing the huge Roman Amphitheater.

Towering over the city, the Medici Fortress, built after the Medici assumed control over the city in 1472, was not con structed for protection but to keep the locals under control and discourage rebel lion. It commands a hilltop position with sweeping views of the city and surround ing countryside. The fortress now houses a prison and visits are allowed only during limited periods. Walking along the exterior walls is the best way to appreciate this huge bastion.


For three thousand years Volterra has been the heart of alabaster country, pro ducing high quality craftsmanship from skills passed down from generation to gen eration. The mineral, formed from calcite, is intricately connected to the city. A soft, translucent stone, alabaster can be easily carved into beautiful works of art.

The Ecomuseum of Alabaster tells the story of the stone, its extraction, process ing, craftsmanship and trading from the time of the Etruscans to present day, all contained in a medieval tower. Visitors

can see examples of different colors of al abaster, from white to cream, tan, yellow, brown and pink.

Wandering the streets of Volterra, visi tors can find shops selling from inexpensive souvenirs to large art objects made from alabaster. Many of the shops contain spe cial lighting to highlight the natural vein ing and coloration, which varies greatly. To see a working laboratory, visit the Rossi Workshop and Gallery, in operation since

1912. Take the tour and see workers called “alabastrai” working in the dust covered workshop creating works of art.

Situated just over an hour’s drive from Pisa and Siena and 1 ½ hours from Flor ence, Volterra offers a vast choice of experi ences and activities for a day trip or week end getaway. For complete information of museums, opening hours and suggestions of things to do, see the website: www.volt

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Past & Present at Volterra’s Guarnacci Museum

Now it is autumn and the falling fruit and the long journey towards oblivion. And it is time to go, to bid farewell… and find an exit from the fallen self.

In his choice of subject matter and title for the poem The Ship of Death, D. H. Lawrence was inspired by a 1927 visit to Etruscan towns, which included Volterra. The Etruscans, in habitants of Central Italy in the centuries before Roman conquest, had their own set of beliefs regarding nature and a future life. In the last chamber of an Etruscan tomb Lawrence found “the sacred treasures of the dead, the little bronze ship of death that should bear (the soul of the dead) to the other world.”

According to ritual, the Etruscans would cremate the bodies of their dead, and place each individual’s ashes in a sarcophagus made of alabaster, tufa, or terra-cotta. The making of these cinerary urns employed many an Etruscan craftsman, and the visible proof is before our eyes at Volterra’s Guarnacci Museum

Here, as Lawrence noted in Etruscan Places, “you have them in the hundreds, curiously alive and attractive.” Each sarcophagus dates from the 4th to the 1st century B.C., and is composed of a rectangular container topped by a depiction of the deceased lying on his or her left side. The head is life-size, while the body, gener ally two feet long, is not. One hand holds a libation dish, seeming to suggest that the subject is a solemn participant in the banquet of another world.

The museum, now renovated after a two-year project to update the premises, features a glass floor on the new roof allowing vis itors to look down into the archeological excavations below. The Guarnacci also contains the beautiful and mysterious Ombra della Sera, an elongated bronze believed to have inspired the work of artist Amedeo Modigliani from nearby Livorno.

Walking from one room to the next in the Guarnacci Museum, our first impression is that the cinerary urns look completely alike. Differences, however, are visible upon close inspection: the earlier sarcophagi are adorned with low reliefs of rosettes and pine cones, while later one’s display variations on the recurrent theme of the voyage. The Etruscans are thought to have migrated to Italy from Asia Minor, and, even in death, seem to have been a people on the move, via horseback or covered wagon. Animals also make an appearance, such as the horse, the wild boar, the mythical griffon (half eagle, half lion), and the dog. A number of battle scenes al ternate with visions of the deceased husband before his wife, in sharp contrast to a group of cinerary urns which illustrate Greek myths, the latter commissioned by members of a refined elite who preferred Hellenistic to Etruscan tradition.

While it is easy to imagine the reliefs as the result of collective artisan labor, the central figure must have been the work of one man who was undoubtedly acquainted with the client during his lifetime. The artist knew, just as we know, that the true beauty of the sarcophagi lies in those pure Etruscan faces gazing towards eternity.



The Upcoming Season at the City’s Major Theaters

The three major Florentine musical organiza tions—Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Orchestra della Toscana and Gli Amici del la Musica (see related article) — have unveiled their programs for the 2022-2023 season. This kickoff this fall will see a number of exciting symphonic concerts and operas at the Teatro del Maggio, the Teatro Verdi, and the Teatro della Pergola.


L’Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (MMF), the Teatro del Maggio’s resident orchestra, will begin its 85th season in September 2022. The first of two themed events planned, the Autumn Festival, is dedicated to the famous Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. Two of his masterpieces, Il Trovatore and La Traviata appear in MMF’s program, although La Tra viata is not among the operas selected for the Autumn Festival and will instead be performed in mid-Febru ary. Verdi’s operas Ernani and Don Carlo will also be featured in the fall with the latter’s premiere marking the much-anticipated inauguration of the new Sala Grande stage at the Opera di Firenze.

Among the other shows featured in MMF’s new season are performances by two guest orchestras in the symphonic concert series: the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra (Jugendorchester) and Montecarlo’s Philhar monic Orchestra. MMF will also produce a shortened version of the opera Faust for children in late Novem ber and early December of this year.


The 42nd season of Orchestra della Toscana (ORT) at the Verdi Theater (Teatro Verdi), includes 15 concerts and will bring “the best youth” (la meglio gioventù) of the international concert world to Italy. This will be the second season under the artistic direction of Daniele Rustioni, an internationally lauded conductor.

The mission of ORT’s new season is to bring artists to Tuscany who are never, or rarely, listened to in this region. For many of the musicians and conductors, this will even be their first time in Italy. Rustioni strives to introduce this new generation of classical musicians to the Italian music scene, because he believes that it is through their work that classical music will be ferried into the middle of the century, as they connect the tra ditions they have inherited with a new vision that is fresh, modern, and evolved.

The program this season will therefore be filled with the names of young winners of prestigious internation al competitions and other honors. Among these are Italians Giuseppe Gibboni, who won Genoa’s “Pagani ni” Prize last year and the pianist Alexander Gadjiev (of Russian descent).

The season will open October 21 with the inaugural concert under the guidance of Honorary Conductor of the ORT, American James Conlon. The show will consist of Beethoven’s Symphony n. 5 and Schubert’s Symphony n. 4, also called “Tragic.”

Other notable performances this fall include the Festa della Toscana, a commemoration marking the ab olition of the death penalty in Tuscany, the first region in Western civilization to do so in 1786. Conducted by Thomas Guggeis, the protégé of Argentinian pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, who is the young est ever Principal Conductor of the Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper), the Festa will include the world premiere of Renato Miani’s “Svual,” Schumann’s Piano Concer to in A minor, Op. 7 and Beethoven’s Symphony n. 4, Op. 60.

Finally, the Christmas Concert (Concerto di Natale) conducted by Daniele Rustioni will take place on Christ mas Eve afternoon, as per tradition. The evening will showcase Prokofiev’s Symphony n. 1, Op. 25 and Con certo n. 2, Op. 63 as well as Beethoven’s Symphony n. 1.

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Daniele Rustioni


The Transformation of a Former Psychiatric Facility by the Chille De La Balanza Company

The Chille de la Balanza headquar ters at San Salvi has been through a dramatic transformation over the years: the journey started in a recently closed insane asylum, where a pavilion now houses the historical theater company.

San Salvi, one of the most spacious plac es in Florence with its wide-open green spaces, also sits surrounded by a large park. All the different buildings in the area cover a lot of ground, with outdoor areas of about 5,000 square meters and interiors of 1,000 square meters. Besides hosting Chille de la Balanza, buildings include offices for administrative, management, operational services of the ASL health department and a church best known for its Last Supper fresco by Andrea del Sarto.

The whole complex contained ample green spaces and a so-called psychiatric hospital established in 1891, housing 5,000 inmates yearly until 1998. While acknowl edged as one of the greatest Italian poets, Di no Campana was also judged mad and sub sequently locked up at San Salvi because of his unconventional behavior. He wrote a last undelivered letter to his lover in 1918, fellow poet Sibilla Aleramo, which says “Come and see me, please,” now displayed on the wall at Chille de la Balanza headquarters.

Thanks to the Basaglia Law, psychiat ric hospital reform began to be instituted throughout Italy in 1978. The official de cree of the compulsory closing down of all insane asylums required patients to leave, gradually replacing on-site treatment with community-based services or psychiatric wards in general hospitals. In the case of San Salvi, the gradual closure of the asy lum began with the Basaglia Law and ended with the release of the last patient in 1998. Italy currently is the only country in the world that has outlawed psychiatric hospitals.

San Salvi’s last director, Dr. Carmelo Pellicanò felt that to be able to close an in sane asylum, all the last inmates who were judged insane or crazy had to leave, but city residents also had to come inside the asy lum to never let its tragic story fade from memory. Following the shutdown in 1998, he decided to turn part of San Salvi into a

permanent cultural center, and for that pur pose, he asked the theater company called “Chille de la Balanza” to reside in the pa vilion and create community projects span ning years that include the history of the venue. Since then, Chille de la Balanza con tinues to organize and perform a wide range of artistic events in Florence and beyond.

21 yesterday & todayTUSCANY ’ S CULTURAL GUIDE
A member of the public creating a poster interpreting San Salvi during the annual May 1 Open Day at the former asylum

As a tribute to Dino Campana and other former patients, La Passeggiata (the walk) is organized every year when guests are guided through the whole structure and encounter its heritage. To this day, over 60,000 visitors have participated, and it is now also recognized as a Heritage Walk by UNESCO.

When the asylum was open, the patients were subjected to severe physical and psy chological treatments during their stays, often causing inhumane conditions. To keep the inmates quiet in order to inhibit rioting or attempted escapes, ruthless prac tices were applied, such as electroshock, and 2,000,000 mosquitoes were even im ported to cause malaria. The situation was similar in most psychiatric facilities in Italy, causing a lot of debate regarding the social exclusion of patients from the public in ac cordance with mental health care practices of that time.

Chille de la Balanza’s presence is per ceived as a significant part of the asylum’s transformation. Sometimes, people who had a connection with the place before (like former patients or their relatives and former health care staff) leave photos, doc uments, posters, or brochures during the tour, becoming part of a permanent archive of the background of the place, an archive to remember how it was before. The trau matic and rueful history always stays alive between the walls of the building, but tours help with the healing process.

The company also organizes tours of other ex-asylums in Italy to illustrate their tragic stories as well as workshops, high lighting the theme of mental health and the relationship between art and madness.

In San Salvi, the transformation can be felt all over the place. Back then in the former asylum, the inmates were locked on

the top floor while everything else was on the ground floor. On that level, the former kitchen now is the place for the theater company to store equipment. The cafeteria for the former patients, now used as a room for actors to meet and work, also contains storage space for costumes. In the back gar den, summer performances are held on the stage, including the annual concert for the Ferragosto holiday on August 15.

There are certain symbolic days (includ ing Ferragosto) when the former asylum is

open to the public. European Labor Day, May 1, is another. On that date, people of all ages are invited and asked to display their creations on a poster through which they interpret San Salvi. In this event titled “The Kick Off of the Summer Season in San Salvi,” the aim is to create utopia in a place that once was full of pain and misery.

Another tribute to Dino Campana (1882 – 1932), also held in the summer on the anniversary of his birth, includes a tour around the region called “Tutti Pazzi per Campana” (All Crazy for Campana) proj ect. The tour starts at San Salvi, and the art ists and spectators take a shuttle to Marra di, Campana’s birthplace, followed by stops at the poet’s residence in via Arione in Las tra a Signa, and the former insane asylum of Castelpulci in Scandicci, where Campa na died. At each layover, performances of poetry and music are staged.  The program involves artists who have taken Campana’s poetry throughout Europe: the actor-direc tor Claudio Ascoli, also director of Chille de la Balanza, the singer-songwriter Massi miliano Larocca, who set Campana’s book of verse, “Canti Orfici” to music, and the musician Riccardo Tesi.

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Claudio Ascoli, Riccardo Tesi & Massimiliano Larocca


The Quest for the City’s Best ‘Lampredotto’ Panino

Palle d’Oro via Sant’Antonino 43-45/r.

Open from 12 noon - 3 pm, also 7 – 11 pm on Friday & Saturday.

Nerbone, inside the Central Market. Open from 8 am - 3 pm.

Lupen and Margo, via del Ariento outside the Central Market.

Open from 9 am - 3 pm.

Da’ Vinattieri, via Santa Margherita 4/r.

Open from 11:30 am - 7 pm.

Trippaio del Porcellino, next to the boar statue at the Straw Market near Por Santa Maria.

Open from 8:30 am until they run out of bread.

Tripperia Pollini, via de’ Macci 126. Open from 9:30 am - 4 pm.

All lampredetto stands and restaurants in Florence are closed on Sunday.

True Florentines can be identified in several ways, one of which is wear ing violet (viola) on game days to support the local Fiorentina soccer team. While this is an easy way to spot a local, another way is harder to discern. Hidden in out-of-way stands and a handful of tratto rias not frequented by tourists is yet anoth er source of local pride: a purely Florentine gastronomic specialty called Lampredotto.

What is lampredotto and where can it be found? The dish consists of the lower part of the multi-chambered bovine stomach. Although sold next to each other, lampre dotto should not be confused with trippa, which is the upper part; it is eaten through out Italy but can also be found worldwide.

Dark brown in color and with the con sistency of soft-boiled chicken skin, lam predotto is arguably as old as the city itself. According to Sergio Pollini, the owner of a stand near the church of Sant’Ambrogio, the tradition of lampredotto had its roots in the city’s medieval working class and be came increasingly popular in the centuries that followed.

The name of the dish derives from the lamper eel, common to the Arno during the Middle Ages and Renaissance that was popular among the aristocracy. In a show


of Tuscan irony, those who could not afford this delicacy dubbed their cattle-based di etary staple “lampredotto.”

Michelangelo Chiaroni is co-owner with Simone Ortolani of the sandwich market called Da’ Viniattieri, modeled after the old lampredotto eateries of the 20th centu ry. Chiaroni and Ortolani cook lampredotto in house using broth made from vegetables sourced directly from farmers. They use a basic ancient recipe, but revised it a little bit. Da’ Viniattieri serves lampredotto on a special bread—sèmelle fiorentino—that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the in side, along with spices and flavorings such as garlic, pepper, a touch of red pepper, and just a pinch of curry, a recipe both unique and traditional.

Alessandro Stagi of Nerbone, a popular food stand always with a line, located since 1872 inside the Central Market, says “now all Florentines eat lampredotto, it is not just a working class staple anymore.” Indeed, at stands across the city, doctors, lawyers, stu dents, celebrities, politicians and a handful of curious tourists, are found with a pani no di lampredotto in hand. At Nerbone, the lampredotto panino is served as it has always been: with “sale, pepe and bagnato” (with salt, pepper and dipped in broth). Other variations of eating the sandwich, asking for one or two of the sauces used to fla vor the dish, including salsa verde or green sauce made with garlic, parsley and olive oil or the salsa rossa, a spicy red sauce, change the take on this Florentine classic.

It can also be prepared with all of the above, if one asks. The bread is usually a rose shaped roll called a rosetta, which gets its unusual appearance from the cuts the baker makes on the top before putting it in the oven.

If the line for Nerbone is too long, head over to Lupen and Margo, a small stand just outside the Central Market. This stand also makes a high quality lampredotto cov ered in salsa verde.

According to the Central Market ven dors, there are specific businesses that deal with the cleaning and pre-boiling of lam predotto before it arrives at many of the food stands and restaurants that offer it to their customers. Once there, it slowly boils in one of several sauces from four to five hours. The classic recipe consists of carrots, onions, celery and herbs, although varia tions range from tomato sauce to a broth made with other vegetables such as spinach or artichokes.

Luca Pecchioli at Palle d’Oro, a fam ily-run trattoria that has served the dish since the late 1800s says “the longer lam predotto simmers, the better.” Edoardo Gazzetti, Luca’s cousin, explains how long Palle d’Oro has been making their famous lampredotto, “Since forever. My father used to do it, my grandfather used to do it. It’s a tradition.” Edoardo describes how they prepare their lampredotto “We cook it in meat broth, all day, with carrot, celery and onion. It simmers slowly all day, creating a high quality lampredotto.” Palle d’Oro’s panino di lampredotto is especially delicious because of their homemade salsa verde.

Lampredotto can be eaten on a plate,

but a true Florentine eats it in a sandwich standing at a counter in front of an out door stand, as the original Italian fast food. Sergio and Pierpaolo Pollini, proprietors of Tripperia Pollini, remember when stands were originally small three-wheeled vehi cles (Api) with a hot plate below a pot of lampredotto. The Api were phased out be cause of EU laws that prohibited the sale of food from vehicles.

Another stand near Florence’s famous Bronze Pig (Porcellino at the market on Por Santa Maria near Ponte Vecchio) called Trippaio del Porcellino, also offers a panino di lampredotto. Thanks to flavors, the average tourist will soon realize how amaz ing the lampredotto can be. The panino is big and the meat is soft, served from the cart at an ideal temperature with a perfect amount of salt.

In order to make things easier on the adventurous visitor looking to sample Florence’s living past, Vista toured trippa stands open Monday through Saturday in the historic center where lampredotto can be ordered. Listed in no particular order, these places continue to prepare a dish that is near and dear to the Florentine heart.

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20 Tuesday at 9 pm

Auditorium Fondazione CR Firenze PIANO RECITAL conducted by Josef Mossali Music of Rachmaninov, Debussy, and Ravel

22 Thursday at 9 pm

Auditorium Fondazione CR Firenze Via Folco Portinari, 52 AD LIBITUM TRIO with soloists Damiano Isalo (violín) Martino Tazzari (cello) and Ruggiero Fiorella (piano) Music of Brahms, Gentile, and Shostakovich

23 Friday at 9 pm

Auditorium Fondazione CR Firenze Via Folco Portinari, 52 PIANO RECITAL conducted by Davide Ranaldi Music of Haydn, Chopin, Tarkiainen, and Liszt

26 Monday at 9 pm

Sala Pietro Grossi, Cherubini Conservatory ENSEMBLE CONCERTO REGIO Music of Monteverdi, Kapsberger, Scarlatti, and Händel

27 Tuesday at 9 pm

Lyceum Club Internazionale di Firenze Lungarno Guicciardini, 17 VIOLIN & PIANO CONCERT with soloists Emma Arizza and Stefano Marzanni Music of Mozart, Beethoven, Gluck/Kreisler, Sarasate, Massanet, and Arizza/Marzanni

29 Thursday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittiorio Gui,1 IL TROVATORE opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Thursday at 9 pm

Institut Français, Piazza Osnissanti, 2 CLARINET & PIANO CONCERT with soloist Kevin Spagnolo and Simone Rugani Music of Schumann, Brahms, Reinecke, and Lutoslawski

30 Friday at 9 pm

Sala Pietro Grossi, Cherubini Conservatory AMAI QUARTET featuring Janela Nini (violin), Michaela Kleinecke (viola), and Anna Tonini Bossi (cello) Music of Colasanti and Schubert


2 Sunday at 3:30 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 IL TROVATORE opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Sunday at 9 pm Auditorium Santo Stefano al Ponter Via Por S. Maria, Florence FLORENCE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA conducted by Giuseppe Lanzetta with Raffaele Puccinati (choir master) Music of Mininni and Cherubini

3 Monday at 9 pm

Institut Français, Piazza Ognissanti, 2 VIOLA & VIOLIN CONCERT with soloists Anna Chulkina and Daniel Myskiv Music of Mozart and Martinů

Monday at 9 pm


4 Tuesday at 9 pm

Sala Pietro Grossi, Cherubini Conservatory VIRTUOSITY DUO

Music of Zolotarev, Bach, Runchkak, SaintSaëns, Semionov and Ruggieri

5 Wednesday at 8 pm

IL TROVATORE (see Sunday,2 )

6 Thursday at 6 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Zubin Mehta Music of Guglielmi, Cherubini, and Schumann

7 Friday at 8 pm

IL TROVATORE (see Sunday,2)

9 Sunday at 6 pm

Sala Pietro Grossi, Cherubini Conservatory TEMPO REALE CONCERT with soloists Biago Cavallo (alto saxophone, live electronics), Simone Faraci (live electronics), Simone Grane (electric guitar, live electronics)

Music of Cavallo, Faraci and Grande

Sunday at 9 pm

Auditorium Santa Stefano al Ponte via Por S. Maria, Florence FLORENCE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA conducted by Giuseppe Lanzetta with soloists Bruno Canino (piano) Music of Portera, Mozart, and Beethoven

10 Monday at 9 pm


13 Thursday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Zubin Mehta Music of Bruckner

15 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola via della Pergola, 12/31 ITALIAN YOUTH ORCHESTRA conducted by soloist Julian Rachlin (violin) Music of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky

16 Sunday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Daniele Gatti Music of Wagner and Verdi Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 ENSEMBLE IN CANTO conducted by Fabio Maestri with soloist Valentina Varriale (soprano) Music of Colasanti, Monteverdi, and Debussy

17 Monday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 CELLLO & PIANO CONCERT with soloists Edgar Moreau and Sunwook Kim Music of Schumann, Beethoven, and Grieg

18 Tuesday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 ALCINA opera by Georg Friedrich Händel

19 Wednesday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Zubin Mehta Music of Mahler

20 Thursday at 8 pm ALCINA (see Tuesday, 18)

21 Friday at 9 pm

Teatro Verdi, via Ghibellina 99 ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by James Conlon Music of Schubert and Beethoven

22 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 VIOLIN & PIANO CONCERT with soloists Anne Tufi and Giuseppe Andaloro Music of Bach, Busoni, Ysaÿe, De Falla,Ravel and Sarasate

Saturday at 6 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 ALCINA opera by Georg Friedrich Händel

Saturday at 9 pm Teatro del Giglio, Lucca ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by James Conlon Music of Schubert and Beethoven

23 Sunday at 4:30 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Andrés Orozco-Estrada Music of Haydn, Ravel, and Strauss

Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 VIOLIN CONCERT by Marco Rizzi with the Maghini Choir conducted by Claudio Chiavazza Music of J.C. Bach, J. S. Bach, Pärt, Ysaÿe and Nysted

24 Monday at 8 pm

ALCINA (see Saturday,22)

26 Wednesday at 8 pm ALCINA (see Saturday, 22)

29 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 NEAPOLITAN MUSIC CONCERT conducted by Antonio Florio

25 music & danceTUSCANY ’ S CULTURAL GUIDE

29 Saturday at 8 pm

MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Zubin Mehta with soloist Maurizio Pollini (piano) Music of Schubert, Mozart, and Haydn

30 Sunday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 ORCHESTRA FILARMONICA DI MONTECARLO conducted by Charles Dutoit with soloist Martha Argerich (piano) Music of Ravel and Stravinsky

Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 VIOLIN & VIOLA CONCERT with soloists Isabelle Faust and Antoine Tamestit


5 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL by Arcadi Volodos Music of Schumann and Scriabin

6 Sunday at 6 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32


Music of Bach

10 Thursday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 ERNANI opera by Giuseppe Verdi

12 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL by Yulianna Avdeeva Music of Chopin, Szpilman, Weinberg, and Rachmaninov

Saturday at 6 pm Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by James Conlon Music of Respighi and Shostakovich

13 Sunday at 3:30 pm ERNANI (see Thursday 10)

Sunday at 9 pm Teatro della Pergola (Saloncino), via della Pergola, 12/32 MDI ENSEMBLE with soloist Gabriele Carcano (piano) Music of Borzelli, Ligeti, Debussy, Iannotta, and Urquiza

15 Tuesday at 8 pm ERNANI (see Thursday,10)

18 Friday at 8 pm ERNANI (see Thursday,10)

Friday at 9 pm Teatro Verdi, via Ghibellina 99 ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Dimitri Matvienko with soloist Julia Hagen (cello) Music of Stravinsky, Haydn, Beethoven, and Shostakovich

19 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL by Paul Lewis Music of Schubert

Saturday at 6 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Dame Jane Glover with soloist Luca Benucci (French horn) Music of Prokofiev, Mozart, and Haydn

20 Sunday at 3:30 pm ERNANI (see Thursday,10)

Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola (Saloncino), via della Pergola, 12/32

CALIDORE STRING QUARTET with soloist Ivo Kahánek (piano) Music of Marsalis, Smetana, and Franck

22 Tuesday at 9 pm

Teatro Verdi, Pisa

ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Dimitri Matvienko with Julia Hagen (cello) Music of Stravinsky, Haydn, Beethoven, and Shostakovich

24 Thursday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Daniele Gatti Music of Petrassi, Ghedini, and Casella

26 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32


with soloists Giuseppe Gibboni and Ingmar Lazar Music of Brahmns, Paganini, Wieniawski, and Schnittke

Saturday at 4:30 pm

Teatro Goldoni

FAUST performed by the Maggio Musicale Accademia soloists

27 Sunday at 4:30 pm

FAUST (see Saturday, 26)

Sunday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Christo Eschenbach Music of Bruckner

Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola (Saloncino), via della Pergola, 12/32

CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT with soloists Tommosa Lonquich (clarinet), Danusha Waskiewicz (viola), and Andrea Rebaugengo (piano)

30 Wednesday at 9 pm

Teatro Verdi, via Ghibellina 99

ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Thomas Guggeis with Mariam Batsashvilli (piano) Music of Miani, Schumann, and Beethoven

music & dance 26
Concert Calendar on INFO BOXOFFICE tel. +39 055 212320 2 22 2 23 TICKETS from €17,00 buy online on • •


1 Thursday at 9 pm

Teatro Garibaldi, Figline Valdarno ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Thomas Guggeis with soloist Mariam Batsashvilli (piano) Music of Miani, Schumann, and Beethoven

3 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL by Alexander Gadjiev Music of Chopin and Schumann

Saturday at 6 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Daniele Gatti Music of Falla, Debussy, and Ravel

4 Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola (Saloncino), via della Pergola, 12/32

TRIBUTE TO PIER PAOLO PASOLINI featuring Fabio Zulli (narrator) with soloists Laura Catrani (soprano) and Maria Grazia Bellochio (piano) Music of Solbiati and Bach

10 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL by Mikhail Pletnev Music of Brahms and Dvořák

11 Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola (Saloncino), via della Pergola, 12/32

PROMETEO QUARTET with soloists Volker Jacobsen (viola) and Enrico Dindo (cello) Music of Brahms

13 Sunday at 9 pm Chiesa di Santa Lucia al Borghetto Barberino Tavarnelle MAGGIO METROPOLITANO

15 Thursday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MAGGIO MUSICALE ORCHESTRA conducted by Sir Mark Elder Music of Weber and Mahler

17 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola, 12/32 CELLO & PIANO CONCERT with soloists Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih Music of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Moscheles and Chopin

18 Sunday at 4:30 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 MUSICA D’INSIEME ENSEMBLE & MAGGIO CHILDREN’S CHOIR

Music of Verdi

Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola (Saloncino), via della Pergola, 12/32 QUATUOR AROD QUARTET Music of Attahir and Mendelssohn

20 Tuesday at 9 pm

Teatro Verdi, Pisa ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Daniele Rustioni with soloist Francesca Dego (violin) Music of Prokofiev and Beethoven

21 Wednesday at 9 pm

Teatro Metropolitan, Piombino

ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Daniele Rustioni with soloist Francesca Dego (violin) Music of Prokofiev and Beethoven

22 Thursday at 8 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1


Maggio Musicale Orchestra conducted by Diego Fasolis Music of Bach

Thursday at 9 pm

Teatro Politeama, Poggibonsi

ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Daniele Rustioni with soloist Francesca Dego (violin) Music of Prokofiev and Beethoven

23 Friday at 9 pm

Teatro Garibaldi, Figline Valdarno

ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Daniele Rustioni with soloist Francesca Dego (violin) Music of Prokofiev and Beethoven

24 Saturday at 5 pm

Teatro Verdi, via Ghibellina 99 ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by Daniele Rustioni with soloist Francesca Dego (violin) Music of Prokofiev and Beethoven

27 Tuesday at 7 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 DON CARLO opera by Giuseppe Verdi

30 Friday at 7 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1 DON CARLO opera by Giuseppe Verdi

31 Saturday at 6 pm

Teatro del Maggio, Piazzale Vittorio Gui,1


Maggio Musicale Orchestra conducted by Daniele Gatti Music of Beethoven


7 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL conducted by Sir András Schiff

8 Sunday at 9 pm

Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola, 12/32 VOICE AND PIANO CONCERT with soloists Ian Bostridge (tenor) and Julius Drake Music of Schumann, Mahler, Schubert and Henze

11 Wednesday at 9 pm | 12 Thursday at 9 pm

Teatro Metropolitan, Piombino ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA conducted by soloist Mario Brunello (cello) Music of Schubert and Schönberg

14 Saturday at 4 pm

Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola, 12/32 PIANO RECITAL conducted by Rafal Blechacz Music of Bach, Beethoven, Franck, and Chopin

27 music & danceTUSCANY ’ S CULTURAL GUIDE


Dining Options in Florence, Part I

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or simply looking to venture in the delicious and ethic realm of plantbased eating, Florence has you covered.


For delicious, sustainable offerings, head over to L’Osteria Veg etariana, otherwise known as L’OV, for dinner. L’OV introduced a restaurant concept like no other in June of 2017, initially as a veg etarian restaurant, choosing to specialize in a gluten-free dining experience in 2019. This thanks to owner and chef Simone Ber nacchioni, who decided that L’OV would also incorporate vegan food considering the high demand and the increased veganism in Italy right before the pandemic.

Located on the ancient premises of a convent, later a fish mar ket, customers can enjoy L’OV’s rustic atmosphere. The former fish counter is fronted by a structure covered in living moss. Laced with hanging plants and bohemian inspired decorations, the ven ue has a temperate ambiance thanks to its stone architecture and a white marble wall.

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The green interior of L'OV

The head chef of L’OV, Danilo Dispoto, a vegan himself, makes sure that the food is fresh and in season in order to taste as good as possible.

Chef Danilo mentions that, “the menu changes every two months. We prepare traditional Italian cuisine, but make it veg etarian or vegan. For example, L’OV offers arrosticini, a dish from Abruzzo, which are lamb kebabs, but here we make it with soy. We also do a vegetarian substitute for chick en that tastes similiar,” he says. Cheese is a main ingredient in many Tuscan dishes, and the chef makes sure to still include vegan cheese in many of the menu items, which he makes himself from cashews. Products are organic and local to Tuscany, and the chef sources the best vegetables and alternative ingredients to create green masterpieces.

“We aim for conviviality. Each place set ting also includes a plastic or rubber sheep, cow, or even a dinosaur, so that animals have a presence at the table but not on the plate. This is our philosophy,” he says.

Signature dishes on the menu include the delectable eggplant parmesan; the veg etable is fried twice in rice flour and layered with homemade tomato sauce and vegan cheese (€ 16), and the batter-fried zucchini blossoms, accompanied by a reduction of red peppers (€ 9). The veggie burger with avocado, sundried tomatoes and fries is popular. Finish a meal with the vegan tira misu, topped with fresh berries.

L’OV, piazza del Carmine 4/r, Florence, is only open for dinner from 7 to 10:30 pm, Monday through Saturday during summer months and is open also for lunch on those days the rest of the year; phone 055/205 2388.


A libreria in Italian is a bookstore. Brac is an acronym for ‘Branch Art and Café.’ These

two terms sum up the light and airy spot where patrons can enjoy lunch, din ner, an herbal tea, coffee or smooth ie surrounded by books, bottles of wine and objets d’art. The food, creative vegetarian and veg an dishes, graces the plates with a rainbow of colors and tex tures. The bookshop offers an eclectic and wide selection of adult, art and children’s books. Since a previous visit, seven years ago, the establishment has doubled in size with a more casual tea/coffee shop and book display added alongside the dining room.

Next to an antique store on a quiet street a few steps from the noisy and chaotic via dei Benci and five minutes’ walk from the Uffizi, the atmosphere is surprisingly se rene, relaxed and inviting. As there is no large sign or menu outside, look for the twinkling lights.

Chef/owner Sacha, who once lived in San Francisco, claims inspiration for Brac from the arty bistros and cafes he fre quented in the California Bay Area. He elucidates that Branch Art is “art of the street—not big museum art.” Sacha con tinues explaining how the pandemic made keeping focus for the last two years quite difficult, but that they have survived and are looking forward to the future.

The day we four diners visited for lunch, we were greeted and seated promptly, and the unique menu was explained in Italian and English. The offerings consist of salads, primi piatti based on pasta and rice dish es and secondi piatti, often baked offerings. Our waitperson suggested the piatto unico for €18 which included one selection from each of the three categories.

The carpaccio of avocado came as a per fectly ripe avocado, a real find in Florence, sliced and enhanced with a light tomato sauce, celery, almonds and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Patzaria, a beet salad with Greek yogurt, garlic, onion, chive and lime, seemed perfectly refreshing for a hot sum mer day. Another salad, a carpaccio of pear came with Pecorino Romano cheese and a balsamic vinegar reduction. All salads and carpacci are priced at € 9.

Of the first courses, the agnolotti, a stuffed pasta originating in Piedmont, filled with ricotta cheese and spinach and served with a light tomato sauce and goat cheese, got rave reviews. The menu also featured tagliatelle al ragu, pasta noodles sauced with a rich lentil, tomato, white wine, celery, carrot and onion ragù. Lasa gna made with spinach, ricotta, parmesan cheese and tomatoes tasted fresh and not heavy as some lasagne can be.

The second courses offered the most international flavors on the menu starting with seitan marsala (€ 12). The seitan, a protein derived from wheat gluten which has a meat-like texture, came sauced in In dian curry spices and coconut milk richness. Dosa, a legume and rice crepe filled with

Brac's artistic setting L'OV's eggplant parmesan

potato, onion, cumin, mustard, cilantro and a guava sauce, can be ordered for €9. The restaurant offers several dishes prepared with pane carasau, a traditional Sardinian flatbread. One dish featured pane carasau layered with eggplant, buffalo mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and pecorino cheese.

The wine list features lesser-known vint ners, and we enjoyed the tasty meal with a glass of organic white wine. Thoroughly satisfied with our three-course lunch, we still were tempted when our server named the desserts of the day and we devoured slices of sinfully rich, chocolate cake and luscious cheesecake.

In the past months, BRAC has hosted reg ular book talks and art events, which can be seen on their website. Due to high popularity, reservations for meals are strongly advised.

The dishes, freshly made to order, came beautifully presented on the plates. Take the opportunity to browse the books and art while waiting for your meal and your expe rience will be enhanced. Notice the locally made artwork on the placemats, all individ ually designed and executed. Then enjoy your food slowly to better appreciate the unique combinations of flavors and ingredients. Open daily noon to midnight, Brac is located on via dei Vagellai, 18r, Florence; phone 055 094 4877; website



Universo Vegano is a fast food restaurant located in the Santa Croce neighborhood, offering an entirely vegan menu. With its green décor and open windows gazing out to the additional outdoor seating and nearby square, Universo Vegano is cozy, comfortable and charming. Fulvio Notari, a long-time

vegetarian, and his business partners opened the restau rant in 2015 with the goal of offering Florence affordable and quality vegan food. Notari was in troduced to vegetar ianism 10 years ago through “The China Study,” a book that explores the rela tionship between consuming animal products and chron ic illnesses.

Universo Vega no offers an impressive and diverse menu, featuring both Italian and international dishes, and a range of desserts, fresh juices and smoothies. Customers can know exact ly what to expect when they order as the menu conveniently includes images of ev ery single dish. Starters are priced from €4 up to €12,50 for an elaborate vegan platter of ‘cold cuts’ and ‘cheese,’ while most of the main meals range between €8.50 and €9.90. Larger plates which include a combi nation of burgers, salad and potatoes are also available for €15.

One highlight is the spaghetti with ribbons of fresh zucchini, tomato and pitted black olives. Another is the ‘lasagna al ragù veg’ which the Universo Veg ano chefs create almost entirely by scratch. This specialty is made from soy pieces cooked in tomato sauce and an ar ray of spices, lay ered between pas ta sheets, melted vegan cheese and a soymilk-based sauce. This veg an version of the classic ragù lasa gna dish has been

perfected—even meat eaters have difficul ty telling the difference.

Notari’s passion for travelling inspired him to create a global menu where one can experience a vegan take on both traditional Italian dishes and flavors from all over the world. Universo Vegano offers Thai salad plus curries, as well as dishes infused with Swedish, Spanish and Mexican flavors.

But there’s more. On display at the front counter are vegan chocolate-filled croissants for €1.50, coconut and choco late cookies for €0.50 each, and a variety of intricate desserts, including ‘vegamisu’ (tiramisu) for €4.90. Recently introduced are the whole wheat breakfast croissants, all vegan, dairy- and gluten-free, ranging from citrus and ginger to jam or hazelnut. There is also an extensive beverage menu featuring custom-made fruit juices that can be augmented by blending veggies such as carrot, cucumber and fennel or fresh ginger.

Universo Vegano, via Pietrapiana 47/r, is open 10 am – 10:30 pm Monday to Fri day and 10 am – 11 pm weekends; phone 055/234 11 08; takeout and delivery options available on

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One of Brac's dishes